Mihipedia is a travel blog written by Mihiri Wikramanayake, a freelance travel writer. Mihipedia is about personal experiences, affordable itineraries, in beautiful locations. Some of the travel is sponsored and others are self-funded. Most of the photography is original and opinions are personal.
One of the highlights of my trip to China is experiencing the train ride from Beijing to Lhasa. Despite the initial reservations of coping for two days on a train, dealing with altitude sickness, and living in a cramped compartment (meant for four), I am excited!
I get to the Beijing West Railway Station with just enough time to battle the madding crowds, pass luggage through overworked scanners, decipher the Chinese-only ticket details, search for correct gate and platform, and struggle down the escalator without tumbling down headfirst!
With ten minutes to spare (train departs at 20:00), I am at the platform and boarding the Z21, the sky train that will be my accommodation for the next two days.
I have (wisely) got a soft sleeper, better known as a first-class sleeping cabin. These berths comprise of four “soft” sleeping beds, a pillow and a blanket each, a small table, flask for water, one power outlet and four oxygen outlets, and a door that can be closed for privacy.
I have a dream to someday visit all of the Wonders of the World. This time, it’s the Great Wall of China. Built between the 5th century B.C. and the 16th century, the Great Wall is a 4000-mile, stone and earth fortification built to protect the Chinese empire from invading Mongols. This makes it the world’s longest man-made structure.
While there are many sections of the Wall that can be accessed, I am at Mutianyu, known as one of the best-preserved and least crowded. It is 65km to the north of Beijing. Once there, the ticket entrance is a short walk from the vehicle park and I’m given the choice of walking up to the top, or hitching a ride on a cable car.
Of course, I get on the cable car!
As SQ 802 circled Beijing’s airspace for landing, I crane my neck at the window seat trying to get a glimpse of the Great Wall. I am disappointed because at this late midnight hour, there are too many twinkling lights to confuse me in this capital city of modern architecture.
China has been a source of fascination for me. From wondering what the most populace nation in the world was like, to history lessons about ancient dynasties, the Mongol conquest of China (I am a great fan of the Genghis Khan), the strict communist control by Mao Tse-tung, apt quips by Confucius, to walking finally on the world’s wonder, the Great Wall among so much more.
Now, I’m here….
That means “good things come in small packages” in Scottish. A perfect description of my destination!
The weather is chilly yet a welcome change from the scorching heat in Colombo and the three-hour 30 minute drive to Hatton is easy and picturesque (and much more bearable than the three-hour power cuts I was experiencing at home). I am en route to The Argyle , located along the Nuwara Eliya road and Google Maps explains the way very clearly.
Set in 3.1 acres of sprawling tea country, The Argyle is large, spacious and themed along Scottish heritage in reverence to the era of the Scottish tea planters who settled in this area in the 1850s.
“Go and visit the S.E.A. Aquarium,” pestered my offspring over the phone. So, with an afternoon to spare before catching my flight back home I headed off to Resorts World Sentosa situated just across the street from the Bay Hotel Singapore.
Located in a 20-acre park which combines two attractions, the S.E.A. Aquarium and the Adventure Cove Waterpark, it was once considered to be the world’s largest aquarium by total water volume until overtaken by Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Hengqin, China.
Despite it being a Friday evening, I was relieved that there were not many visitors. This, undoubtedly made my visit easier, faster and more enjoyable.
The aquarium is amazing. It really is.